Mukund Sivaraman <> writes:

> Many distros ship GIMP, even slightly patched versions for bugfixes or
> better integration into their environments. This improves the experience
> for users. Formally registering a GIMP trademark may not be seen in a
> good light by distributions, even if we readily wish to see them use the
> name. See Firefox vs. Iceweasel for example.

The Firefox *logo* did not meet Debian Free Software Guidelines. Since
Debian didn't want to include non-free artwork, and Firefox's trademark
policy is that you need to include the logo to call it Firefox, it was
rebranded for Debian. If Wilber were a non-free artwork, Debian would
not include it regardless of trademarks, but I see Wilber at so I'm pretty sure the logo
must be Debian-proof :) And says public domain.

> Even though GIMP is an established project, we generally don't want to
> spend time as contributors to fight a legal battle. There are even
> questions of whether we *should*, i.e., whether an established free
> software project has to register trademarks and involve lawyers to
> protect it from being misused this way.

Is trademarking completely out of the question? I see not only Firefox,
but ImageMagick, Inkscape, GNOME, GNU and Linux in –
Inkscape being of similar "size" to GIMP, does anyone know how much work
it cost them to register their trademark, and how much it costs them to
keep it?

Reading through
it doesn't look too bad in terms of money. (The whole section on
trademarks there is worth reading.)

Also, it seems you may in fact call it GIMP™ already, since you have
certain "unregistered rights" to the trademark just because GIMP has
been used by this project as a trademark in practice. (But "®" requires

If you have a trademark, but never object to anyone using it in
commercial/confusing settings, it might get lost. But you can avoid
having to explicitly say yes to every distro and similar "good usage" by
having a simple license like GNOME does:
See also

Then there's the nasty part, which is actually going after abuses. SFLC

> If you disapprove of someone’s unlicensed use which infringes upon your
> exclusive rights, you should send a polite email to the infringer
> notifying them of your claim to the mark, and that their use is
> unacceptable. You might suggest a licensing arrangement, contingent on
> some changes in their usage of the mark. If you believe such an
> arrangement is impossible, ask the violator to fix the problem. Be
> polite but firm. It is often the case that license violations are
> inadvertent and easily fixed. Offer to help the violator take whatever
> steps are needed to achieve compliance, and avoid threats of publicity
> and lawsuits for as long as possible. Make sure the violator understands
> that your primary concern is the project’s reputation, not a large
> financial settlement. Once you convince them of that point, they are
> likely to respond more positively even if they were initially
> unresponsive. 

I'm pretty sure people are used to doing this kind of "polite-but-firm"
emailing wrt. GPL violations anyway, except that with a registered
trademark you have some weight behind you to do it with malware
distributors such as SourceForge as well.

Kevin Brubeck Unhammer

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